parenting for authentic success

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My friend Judith Warner has reviewed an important-sounding book in today's New York Times Book Review, on a topic forever close to my heart.  Titled Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success and authored by Madeline Levine, the book is about teens pushed toward false ideals of success, and the consequences. It's about the teens with whom Levine, a therapist, works—"depleted, angry, and sad as they compete for admission to a handful of big-name colleges" and about the parents "who can't steady or guide them, so lost are they in the pursuit of goals that have drained their lives of pleasure, contentment, and connection."  It's about a society that has, in Warner's words, "reached a tipping point, in which the long-dawning awareness that there's something not quite right about our parenting is strengthened into a real desire for change."

The review closes with this paragraph:
After all, as Levine notes, the inconvenient truth remains that not every child can be shaped and accelerated into Harvard material. But all kids can have their spirits broken, depression induced and anxiety stoked by too much stress, too little downtime and too much attention given to external factors that make them look good to an audience of appraising eyes but leave them feeling rotten inside. 
I read this review at this early hour and my mind returns to George William Shaw, whose funeral earlier this week was deeply moving.  Geordie, George's son, spoke eloquently.  Describing his father as an extraordinary ordinary man, Geordie went on to list George's greatest achievements:  He never put himself first.  He was a quiet provider.  He made all who knew him comfortable.  He made us laugh.  He loved his wife and let her know, every single day.  He bought his daughter roses every birthday.  He taught the neighborhood kids how to pitch.  He never missed a sporting or school event when his children, or their friends, were involved.  He treated his daughter-in-law like a daughter.  He was proud of his roots.

These achievements seemed to me to be of the very highest order.  These achievements, in the long run, mattered.  Vacationing neighbors chartered a plane back to my neighborhood to attend the funeral of this man. A former neighbor flew in from Steamboat Springs.  The friends of George's children came.  Every neighbor in these parts stopped whatever they had planned for Thursday and gathered in memory of George.  This was because of who George was and not because of George's resume.

George's life is proof of the power of goodness, plain and simple.  George's achievements are, perhaps, the kind that we parents can dedicate ourselves to teaching, the kind that Warner and Levine are suggesting we must.  The what will come for our teens.  The who is long and tender in the making.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

Back to TOP